Is Yahoo really dumping Bing in favor of Google Ads?

by Stuart Butler

The world has been rocked by the news of another celebrity breakup this week. I’m not talking about Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner — that one has been discussed enough already. I’m referring to the discovery by Aaron Wall at SEO Book that Yahoo is testing Google ads on some of its search engine results pages.
This isn’t really new news though – Yahoo announced back in 2013 that they had formed a non-exclusive partnership with Google that enabled them to display Google ads on their content network. However, Bing was still the exclusive ad provider on search engine results. That was until this April, when Yahoo renegotiated their deal with Bing. The new deal stated that on 51% of search results ads had to be provided by Bing. This opened the door for other partners, including Google. But, perhaps more importantly, for Yahoos own ad platform. More on that later.
I’ve already seen folks talking about the death of Bing and how this is such a coup for Google. Many people are raising the anti-trust alarm bells and claiming that Google is going to have a monopoly on digital advertising within search engines. But, before the Justice Department puts on their tactical gear and jumps into this war zone, let’s step back and look at this from Yahoo’s perspective for a second. What’s their end game here? Are they really better off showing Google ads vs. Bing ads?
Take a look at the search landscape. Here’s the data that people typically look at when they’re talking about market share.
search engine market share 2015
So, if you look at this at surface level, you’d add 64.4% and 12.8% and get a whopping 77.2% of searches being served Google Ads. Right?…Wrong.
This data is only desktop searches. We are on the cusp of a major change in the Internet world and Yahoo is positioning itself to come out on top.

Everything Is Changing

We know that more people are now performing searches on Mobile devices than on desktop. We also know that Apple dropped Google in favor of using Bing results in its searchlight results. On top of that, Yahoo has been extremely aggressive and developing distribution partnerships with folks like  Firefox who recently dropped Google in favor of Yahoo as its default search engine. The entire Search Engine landscape is really shifting. More important though, is the fact that the ad revenue from searchers is what really drives these companies and mobile adoption threatens that revenue.
People simply behave differently on a mobile device and as consumers start to use other methods to find the stuff they want (such as Siri and niche content sites), ad revenue on search engines is going to decrease.  So where do the companies make up for the lost revenue? The smart money is on native ads.

What Are Native Ads?

Native ads are the magical silver bullet that advertisers have dreamed of their entire lives. Ads that people actually want to see and want to click on. They are those little blocks of related articles that are appearing more and more at the bottom of every article on every major website. Business Insider recently published this data that shows the aggressive growth in native ads.
native ad revenue
This growth is occurring because native ads actually work. They force the advertisers to spend time actually creating value for their consumers and then spending advertising dollars to promote content that consumers actually want. Genius, right? It’s way better than the old dogma of interrupting people with vague promises of something sort of related to what they were looking for.
So, what does this have to do with the Google ads on Yahoo SERPs discovery?

What is Yahoo’s Real End-Game?

One word: Gemini.
Consider this:
Yahoo has been working feverishly on their Gemini ad platform. This platform is the best product on the market for folks who want to manage mobile ads and native ads in the same place. In Yahoo’s announcement of the platform back in February,2013, they stated:

Advertisers get the performance and ease of search, combined with the scale and creativity of native advertising. By bringing the two together, advertisers can now buy, manage, and optimize their mobile search and native ad spending one place—driving greater performance and higher impact for their businesses and brands.

MY prediction is that the Google Ads showing up to a small group of searchers is just a test by Yahoo. It’s a red herring in the grand scheme of things. Their real end game is to use their own ad platform. That way they don’t have to split the revenue with one of their competitors.

What Does This Mean For My Hotel?

If you don’t already have a kick-ass content strategy, you need one. You should be creating top notch, quality content that your potential consumers find useful, informative and entertaining. If you’re not doing that, start doing that today.
If you are already doing that, then consider shifting some of you advertising budget into platforms that help you promote that awesome content via native advertising.

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